Job Details

  • Reference number: AP1015
  • Province: Gauteng
  • Type of engagement: Permanent appointment
  • Posted: November 21st

Background to Position

UNISA is a dedicated distance Higher Education Institution which is funded by the Department of Education and Training in South Africa. In keeping with its mandate as a Comprehensive, Open and Distance Learning (CODeL +) Institution which offers a variety of academic and career-focused programmes, UNISA is inviting applications for the position of Director: Special Projects.

The purpose of the incumbent in this position will be to lead special projects and deliver project management, strategic alignment and implementation support for key organisational projects and initiatives as prioritised and assigned by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor for specific initiatives to advance the mission, vision, and strategy of the university.

Job Description


Key Performance Area 1 : Strategic Direction and Alignment:

  • Developing operational plan and KPI’s in support of the departmental strategy in support of the institution’s overall vision and strategy,
  • Executing the directorate’s operational plan and procedures to support the ODeL 2016-2030 Strategy alignment with the directorate’s operational plans,
  • Providing direction in the directorate’s area(s) of specialisation.
  • Strengthening support for the Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Scientific and Academic work.

Key Performance Area 2 : Operational Leadership and Execution:

  • Leading all facets of project planning and evaluation (i.e., design plans, develops assessments, collect data, analyse data, and report results),
  • Acting on the authority of the Vice Chancellor and Principal to oversee critical projects with a primary focus on key initiatives affecting overall university performance that typically requires cross-functional resource allocation and coordination,
  • Establishing/Coordinating projects or commitments directly involving the Vice Chancellor and Principal and their direct reports while ensuring the scope and direction of each project is on schedule and in alignment among key stakeholders and if applicable, recommends mitigating approaches,
  • Leading and coordinating the success of special projects and initiatives by facilitating the process of project solicitation, selection, prioritisation, implementation, monitoring and intervening where appropriate,
  • Developing and maintaining an inventory of critical path projects in which the Principal and Vice Chancellor is especially interested and/or for which their awareness and involvement are essential,
  • Interpreting, communicating, and implementing policies and procedures pertaining to and consistent with the functions of special projects,
  • Documenting processes and automating procedures to ensure efficient operations,
  • Leading the development and implementation of a plan for evaluation of progress relative to special projects,
  • Preparing and delivering quarterly updates on projects status to the Principal and Vice Chancellor to demonstrate meaningful progress on planning and meaningful value to the staff, colleges, and students,
  • Directing and supporting the implementation of special projects as prioritised and identified by the Principal and Vice Chancellor,
  • Working directly with senior leadership to identify and prioritise opportunities and risks associated with projects,
  • Directing and coordinating work efforts of cross functional teams, ensuring that work adheres to quality standards and is achieved by project deadlines,
  • Developing and managing project budgets, and track project milestones,
  • Utilise opportunities to showcase university’s project management approaches with donors, partners, and other stakeholders,
  • Evaluating project progress and results and reporting them to leadership, ensuring that changes to scope, budget, resources, and risk are communicated in a timely way,
  • Ensuring cross organisational collaboration, shared success and joint action when leading working groups for special projects or initiatives,
  • Fostering the relationships and networks with internal and external stakeholders,
  • Coordinating the activities within the Directorate
  • Promoting intergroup collaboration

Key Performance Area 3 : Forecasting, Budgeting and Financial Management:

  • Managing the directorate’s resources efficiently, effectively, economically and in accordance with the relevant principles and policies of Unisa,
  • Compiling and managing the Directorate’s budget in line with the budget of the Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor,
  • Directing and monitoring the Directorate’s expenditure within budgeted parameters and reporting on variances periodically,
  • Managing the process of allocation of financial resources within the Directorate,
  • Managing the function’s resources sustainably in accordance with financial principles,
  • Authorising the procurement of relevant services, equipment, and materials,
  • Safeguarding the assets allocated to the Directorate,
  • Costing of projected / forecasted personnel models and the linkage thereof to remuneration and benefit models

Key Performance Area 4 : People Management:

  • Ensuring and monitoring that all staff in the directorate are orientated to the organisation, trained, skilled, retained and that their expertise is optimally applied,
  • Ensuring a high performance culture in the directorate through taking accountability for an effective and well-articulated performance management process,
  • Ensuring the implementation of training and development programmes for staff, including personal development plans (PDPs),
  • Establishing a positive, healthy, and safe work environment and culture in accordance with the Transformation Charter,
  • Directing implementation of the human resources policies, procedures, and practices,
  • Building a robust, effective talent and leadership pipeline, succession, and HR capacity

Key Performance Area 5 : Governance and Reporting:

  • Monitoring and reporting on progress against operational initiatives,
  • Monitoring and reporting on legislative and statutory compliance,
  • Promoting sound institutional governance and participating in Institutional governance structures (Professional Citizenship),
  • Ensuring the development and implementation of policies and procedures,
  • Compiling regular reports to Council, its committees, and other relevant structures,
  • Participating in the annual performance review,
  • Identifying risks relating to the field of responsibility, develop and implement mitigating strategies,
  • Documenting and reporting on directorate specific matters,
  • Ensuring proper record keeping of all aspects within field of responsibility

Inherent Criteria


  • PhD Degree and registration with relevant professional body where applicable,
  • Associate Professor or Professorship position is highly recommended


  • Minimum 10 years of relevant work experience with at least 5 years in a management role,

  • Project Management experience is recommended.

Application Requirement


Ø  A letter of motivation.

Ø  An abridged and comprehensive CV.

Ø  Completed UNISA application form.

Ø  Names and contact details for at least 3 referees one of which must be from your present employer.

Ø  Certified copies of matric and degree certificates and Identity Document.

Ø  Proof of SAQA verification of foreign qualifications, where relevant.

To apply please forward your application quoting reference number AP1015 to Genevieve Michel